Enter Shikari, a post-hardcore band; hailing from St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom is redefining what it means to be an inventive and innovative band in today’s musical climate. After the inclusion of a new band member and a name change, the four-piece consisting of Rou Reynolds (electronics/vocals), Rory Clewlow (guitar), Chris Batten (bass) and Rob Rolfe (drums) broke out onto the scene gaining mass appeal by infusing the elements and ideology of Metal, Hardcore and Punk with sounds from the current Electronica scene ranging from Trance to Drum and Bass and Dubstep. Their debut album, Take to the Skies, released in March of 2007 resonated well among UK listeners topping off at #4 on the UK Album Charts. The album experimented largely with aggressive House and Trance with Hardcore and Punk. Their sophomore album, Common Dreads, also did well on UK Charts debuting at #16. This is surprising seeing as the second album usually proves to be the toughest for bands and Enter Shikari was once again unafraid to push the boundaries of their sound even further by incorporating Dubstep and Jazz into their repertoire. The fearlessness of these two albums carved out a strong fan base for the band which led to the success of their latest album, A Flash Flood of Colour, which debuted at #4 on UK Album Charts.
This fusion is very current in the post-hardcore scene with many bands attempting to bring elements of Electronica into heavier music in order to reinvent their sound as well as give a new platform for the genre to stand on outside of the club sphere. However, the band has come under fire for their attempt to fuse together the two genres. The Hard Rock scene is notorious for its exclusive stance towards stepping too far outside of the box. The phrases many use are that “it’s not true to the craft” or “it goes against the DIY (do it yourself) ethic,” that ethic having its roots in both punk and hardcore. Some Hard Rock puritans claim that the sequencing and prior programming to back live tracks is against this ethic and that the fusion takes away genre rather than adding to it. Nevertheless, there is a steady increase in the use of electronic elements in the Hard Rock scene both in North America and the UK. This genre clash has its beginnings in the same place as that of the punk scene so this transformation may simply be an evolution in the culture of youth and their particular stance in relation to the UK’s political climate.
Though the music has gone through tremendous experimentation and continues to do so Enter Shikari has remained ever dedicated to creating socially conscious music. The band is adamant in creating music that deals specifically with economic, political and social change and awareness. The band also looks to promote community through their music and does so artistically by using a specific element based in punk music, the gang vocal. This is recording trick of layering multiple vocals to create the sound of a large crowd. It is typically used to accent a specific statement in the song, usually one that promotes a sense of community.
A Flash Flood of Colour proves to be Enter Shikari’s most experimental and eclectic work to date. At this point one might want to call the band Avant-Garde for the many genres that they seem to bring together in this melting pot of an album. They stretch out their talents even further touching upon the current British indie rock scene with quick catchy riffs such as in the chorus of Arguing with Thermometers. They also graze upon Hip Hop with Rou’s rhyming vocals on top of a furious Drum and Bass track in the introductory verse of Sssnakepit. The album has a definite up and down flow to it, not only in volume but in style. It ranges from the explosive nature of Meltdown, which features a pairing of double-bass and distorted guitar along with a destructive wobble bass, to the softer nature of songs like Stalemate with falls slightly back on their roots in Trance. Though it is something they have done on each album to some capacity, the album employs an interesting recording technique in comparing and contrasting live recordings with synthesized sound. This may be an artistic endeavour on the band’s part to parallel the struggle between individual and community in politics and economics.
Enter Shikari looks to bring together the explosive capabilities of different musical genres and exploit the impact they create once colliding. This type of band blurs the line between genres and, in doing so, opens the listener up to interest in different genres of music. But, at the same time reveals the similarities between musical genres. As polarizing as Electronica and Hardcore may be, they both utilize the power of a strong bass as well as a crescendo to reinforce the climax of the song (that climax being the “breakdown” in Hardcore and the “drop” in Electronica). Bands that break down these barriers between genres are a musical gateway drug, exposing lovers of Electronica to Hardcore and vice versa.
I suggest this band and album to you, the reader, in hopes that the elements of Hardcore speak to the punk in you or that the elements of Electronica speaks to your inner clubbing child.